June 22, 2003 by

Freddie Meeks

5 comments

Categories: Military

meeks.jpgFreddie Meeks, a black sailor who was pardoned by President Clinton for his role in a World War II mutiny, died. Cause of death was not released. He was 83.
Meeks was court-martialed by an all-white jury in 1944 for refusing to return to duty after an explosion at the Port Chicago naval facility near San Francisco. The explosion killed 320 servicemen and wounded 400.
Afterwards, more than 250 black sailors went on strike, saying they wanted assurances of safety. Most eventually returned to duty, but Meeks and 49 others were found guilty of mutiny and sentenced to prison and hard labor.

5 Responses to Freddie Meeks

  1. Chinese John

    I have just watched the movie about the ‘Mutiny’ after the Port Chicago disaster and have nothing but admiration for Mr Meeks and his fellow sailors. Being ex Navy myself, I know the stupidity of some of the officers in charge and have suffered the pettiness of their actions (a Petty Officer is well named). I was moved enough by the movie to chase the story up on the internet and was pleased to see Mr. Meeks finally got his pardon. I wish his family well.

  2. James Haddon

    I recently watched a show on TV about Port Chicago, I am 48 years old, and knew nothing about it, till I saw the show on discovery.
    I was moved to find out more, and read about Mr. Meeks.
    I just wanted to pay my respects to him.
    Regards, JH

  3. JC

    I just watched Mutiny and it prompted me to look into the history behind the story. I was relieved to see that an accurate picture had been made. I was deeply troubled by the fact these men have still not received just proceedings. To think that Meeks was not pardoned until 1999 is so upsetting. This was a situation taken entirely too far and to the extreme by those in charge of the fate of these men.
    I pay my respects to all those who risk their lives for their country, but I also pay my respects to all those who determine to take a stand against wrong, no matter what the cost.

  4. Rutherford B. Hyde

    Good morning,I also wish to Pay my respect,s to those who who risk their lives for our country ( this ) And more respect for those who took a stand against wrong.I as One of the original Negro Sailors sent to the great Port Chicago Ammunitions Depot We arrived 1 Dec 1942,The night of the Explosion,The day before I was sent to Mare Island Hospital ,Because I some mounths past ,had been knocked or fell from the tween deck,broke my shoulder,I returned to the Base ,an the 20 I had light duty,To Day I think about ,being a Negro,obeying orders,or munity,as for being Black,I wonder just how much has it helped.I never hear any thing about what was being loaded,in the Lower Deck,I would say up to 8 feet,I was in charge of # 5 hole and I think all the rest were being loaded with T.N.T. and after the wings decking we Laid 500 Lb.BumsI was there,Thrue out the Years I have wondered and ask God,why was I spared,that night,The hospital,just helt Me over until Morning,On the 19 there were two Explosions,the first on was the big one another one follored.Hope this has been a suprise,dont know if any info,furnished You can use,but it,s all so true R .B. Hyde 641-1715 U,S,Navy Reserve. Please Post.

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